What if Milwaukee could actually afford 1,000 more cops? And what if none of them were sloppy, or lazy, or crooks themselves -- in other words, what if the cops we could afford formed the type of top-notch, unblemished work force that does not exist anywhere in the real world?
More crooks would be caught, most likely, and that is a good thing. More speeders and tailgaters and people who don't put on their turn signal would be caught, too. Would a lot of crime be prevented? Maybe some -- certainly taking crooks off the street would prevent them from committing crimes while they are in jail.
The causes and cures for crime, though, make for a big, messy complex problem and the politicians agitating for more cops, more cops, more cops, are only addressing a tiny part of a small part of a big puzzle. So we get 1,000 more cops -- where do we put the people they arrest? The jail and House of Correction have been pretty crowded in recent years -- do we build more cells? Do we release more people on bail? Do we raise taxes to do this? County Executive Scott Walker certainly would not want to do that. Would Mayor Barrett?
Has anyone figured out just exactly what we want these cops to do? Is there a plan out there somewhere?
If we hire 1,000 cops and the number of murders goes up by 10, do we hire 1,000 more cops? 2,000 more? What if the number of armed robberies and murders goes down, but the number of rapes goes way up?
As more cops write more and more tickets, will we hire more judges in Municipal Court and more prosecutors in the city attorney's office? Will there be enough legal representation available for the indigent? There will be tons and tons of new cases -- small, petty cases -- that will wind up in Circuit Court. Will we hire more district attorneys and public defenders and judges?
And after that -- will we build more prisons? How many more? For whom? The robbers and murders -- sure, those are the easy ones. What about the woman who didn't pay four speeding tickets, or the guy busted a couple of times for shoplifting? The issues involved in hiring more cops don't end when the cops hit the street. One thing leads to another, and more arrests lead to more court appearances and incarcerations.
If we hire lots more cops, what then? Just asking.